Joanne Farah is the owner of Balmain toy store The Little Treasure Chest, offering beautiful, sustainable and lasting toys to be enjoyed for generations. The mother of three was inspired to launch her online business, then the bricks-and-mortar store, after lamenting the burden of mass-made plastic toys and the lack of independent toy stores locally. She wanted to bring back the simple, old-fashioned delights of childhood with calming play experiences that would ignite children’s natural curiosity and wonder. The Little Treasure Chest stocks a wide range of toys as well as children’s decor and is the perfect place to go for those special newborn, baby or children’s gifts that will be treasured for many years.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a local mother of three amazing daughters. I have just launched a toy store in Darling Street, Balmain. As a mother of children aged 12, 10 and 7, I was experiencing the heavy weight of mass plastic, disposable fast-moving attitudes, social media and mass marketing directed at children. I really wanted to provide a play experience which would calm their busy worlds and give them an opportunity to spark their imagination through play. By supplying beautiful, simple toys, I hope to encourage a different way to view the importance of thoughtful, sustainable, long-lasting toys to be enjoyed for generations.
Tell us a bit about The Little Treasure Chest.
The Little Treasure Chest was born in my home in Balmain in 2017 as an Internet business. I quickly realised this did not fit my ethos; what I really considered integral to my business plan was getting the products in front of people, so The Little Treasure Chest Toy Store, at 244 Darling Street, Balmain, was born.
We focus on toys that enhance the simple delights of childhood and good old-fashioned imaginative play. We specialise in providing a variety of open-ended toys and crafts that nurture children’s innate sense of wonder and curiosity.
The business is growing to meet requests by the local community. My baby section is expanding to cater to the needs of new parents and those who wish to purchase gifts for baby showers, newborn and babies.
We encourage collaboration with local artisans, showcasing their products. And we strive to care for ‘our planet’ and select merchandise that is as environmentally friendly as possible.
What did you do prior to establishing The Little Treasure Chest?
Before The Little Treasure Chest I was living overseas and was a stay-at-home mom for 13 years, to my three daughters and stepson. Prior to having children, many moons ago, I had worked in the corporate sector and in media.
What inspired you to set up your own toy store?
The lack of independent toys stores in Sydney suggested that we were missing out on viewing and touching amazing toys. Whilst you can shop online, I wanted to buck the trend and create an experience for people looking to purchase gifts.
There is nothing more rewarding than hearing the oohs and ahs of children as they discover all the treasures whilst pottering around the store.
I’m in total awe of certain toy makers being true to their craft over many generations. Toy makers that create work opportunities for the disabled and economically disadvantaged make the process that much more meaningful.
What kinds of toys do you stock?
I spend countless hours sourcing beautiful well-crafted toys, unique dress-up play, decor, hands-on arts and crafts sets, heirloom quality and handmade dolls, doll houses, wands, and more.
Additionally, I have a small range of décor for children’s rooms with indoor tepees, cushions, rugs, mobiles and bunting.
In your opinion, what are some of the very best toys for toddlers?
I’m a big fan of wooden blocks. This simple toy has immense benefits whilst providing fun. Blocks help to promote important developmental skills such as understanding cause and effect, problem solving, coordination, fine motor skills and spatial awareness. They can be played with individually or with others, which in turn teaches children to cooperate and develop strategies for challenges when building. Blocks last forever, toddlers will add these to their growing selection as they mature. We have a large range of wooden blocks, cubes, rainbow arcs, waterfalls arcs and mountain arcs for babies, young budding architects all the way through to adults.
Do you have any favourite toys among your range?
Not an easy one – I have so many favourites! At the moment I’m loving The NIC Multi Racer Track. This toy will entertain and the kids will try keeping the adults away, I have two sizes in stock: an eight track and a six track. Then there are mermaids, ballerinas, pirates and a space princess – handmade with love in Barcelona. These are of the highest quality and make a very special gift. The fishing bag from Eperfa, handmade in Hungry, will is just delightful. And lastly the range from Such Great Heights, with beautiful gender-neutral doll houses, doll high chairs, doll cots and bamboo hula hoops.
What can customers expect when visiting the Balmain store?
I work at the store seven days a week so come in and say hi! I hope you will have a tactile, calm, friendly experience. I have designed the store to cater for prams so caregivers can easily access all areas and there is always something on the floor for children to play with.
Is there a book or podcast that has inspired you recently?
I haven’t had any time for books but what has inspired me since opening my store is the amazing support that I have received from the awesome local mums. The generosity of their time, wisdom, and experience has been invaluable. I don’t think I could have achieved this without them. I feel such gratitude for living and working in the Inner West community.
As a mother, what advice can you offer new parents?
Catch ZZZ’s whenever you can, eat well, don’t worry about tidying and enjoy all those precious moments. Be kind to yourself and remember there is no perfect parent!
Favourite places in the Inner West?
Definitely Mort Bay Park for family picnics and outdoor games. When I need a coffee the Darling Street strip has plenty to choose from. I also enjoy visiting the Royal Oak and Orange Grove Markets.